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March 2009 Issue

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Aneurysm Risk Factors, Causes Could Be More Complicated

Published March 2009

Does “genetic anticipation” play a role in ruptured brain aneurysms?

Previous studies have suggested that it does, with the aneurysms occurring at younger ages in subsequent generations of families with at least one case of ruptured aneurysm. But they actually may tend to happen at an older age, according to a new UC study.

If that’s the case, says the team headed by Daniel Woo, MD, associate professor of neurology at UC, the genetic epidemiology of ruptured brain aneurysms is far more complicated with multiple genetic and environmental risk factors interacting with each other.

The study was published in the Feb. 24, 2009, edition of Neurology.

Prior studies had suggested that aneurysm ruptures affect the second generation as much as 20 years younger than older generations, suggesting that a genetic risk factor is accumulating with each generation and that aggressive screening should be performed.

The new study, correcting for length of follow- up, shows that aneurysms actually may happen at an older age.

“The finding also suggests that we should be looking for all types of genetic risks, not just those that accumulate over generations, which are a very small group of risk factors,” says Woo.

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